The Other Side of the Story - The Mad Professor

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The Other Side of the Story - Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt

The Mad Professor

My father was in Manhattan a while ago and met a man who said he was a professor from Israel giving a seminar in his field that day. My father, a warm, generous man, engaged this professor in conversation for quite a while. The poor professor mentioned that his wallet had just been stolen. "What will you do in Manhattan without funds?" my father asked, and offered him a large sum to cover food and transportation. They exchanged addresses and phone numbers and the man promised to send my father the money.

All this was relayed to me because I live here in Jerusalem and my father wanted me to look him up. "He's a very interesting person; you should definitely get in touch." Well, the phone number Dad gave me for that neighborhood I knew wasn't correct. Sure enough, it didn't work. No problem, I thought. I'll just look it up in the directory. The professor was indeed listed, but on another street. His answering machine said that he and his wife were "abroad."

The monpassed and my father asked occasionally if I'd reached the professor. Finally one night, I called and left a message on the machine and received a call back within an hour! "I want to make sure I have the right person," I began. "Is this Professor S. who was recently in America?" "Yes," he said. "My father asked me to call; he so enjoyed meeting you in Manhattan!" "Manhattan? No, we were in Florida and Detroit."

"Are you sure you weren't in Manhattan? My father said he met you there on your way to give a lecture!" "No, I am sorry, we were only in New York to catch a flight back to Israel."

There was a pause. Then, I heard the professor's wife talking excitedly in the background. Suddenly he asked me: "Tell me, did this man ask your father for money?" "Well, sort of...he said he'd been robbed and my father gave him $100!" The professor began telling me that a few years ago they received calls from New York concerning sums of money he apparently had "borrowed." He explained that all the details of who he was and his position could be read in the university "Who's Who" and that any clever scoundrel could impersonate him. "I am very sorry about this," he said. "Please tell your father that when he visits, I would be happy to introduce him to the real professor!"

A Devoted Reader

The Other Side of the Story Archives

Based on "The Other Side of the Story" by Mrs. Yehudis Samet, ArtScroll Series

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